Carbon Monoxide - Smoke Alarms

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					                                             FIRE FACTS
                                             Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odourless, colourless, toxic gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of
common fuels such as gasoline, coal, natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene and methane, or any other combustible
material such as wood, cloth, or paper. Fuels burn incompletely when they do not receive enough oxygen.

Potential carbon monoxide sources in the home, camper/RV, and garage include all fuel burning appliances, such as
fireplaces, clogged chimney flues, water heaters, furnaces, gas space heaters, wood and gas stoves, charcoal grills, and
barbeques, as well as vehicle exhaust fumes, generators, and tobacco smoke.

The Facts
       CO causes approximately 85 deaths a year in Alberta.
           Smoke inhalation from fires is the most common form of CO poisoning.
           The risk of CO poisoning increases during the winter, when homeowners close or seal up their houses to
            conserve heat and use fuel-burning appliances more often.
           Carbon monoxide is almost identical in weight to normal air and thus will mix freely with air.
    Fuel burning appliances and CO production
           Fuel burning appliances are safe and convenient when they are properly installed, used and maintained.
            Under correct operating conditions, the combustion products of fuel burning appliances are water and
            carbon dioxide, the same substances we exhale when we breathe.
           The improper installation, use, and maintenance of fuel burning appliances causes the formation of carbon
            monoxide gas.
           Correct operation of fuel burning appliances requires two key conditions:
             1. There must be an adequate supply of air for complete combustion to take place.
             2. Products of combustion must be properly ventilated to the outside.
           Regular home appliances, such as clothes dryers, fireplaces, kitchen and bathroom fans, central vacuum
            cleaners, and kitchen barbeques can remove air from the home, decreasing the amount of air available to
            fuel burning appliances. When air starved fuel-burning appliances compete for air they can create a
            negative pressure vacuum, which pulls CO contaminated air back into the home.
           Today’s more energy-efficient, airtight homes can limit air inflow into the home, which may also cause
            fuel-burning appliances to compete for available oxygen and “back draft”, pulling polluted or CO
            contaminated air back into the home.

The Law
    Under the Certification and Permit Regulation (AR 168/2002) of the Safety Codes Act:
           A home-owner may personally replace their own residential gas fired appliance (furnace, space heater,
            boiler, hot water tank) without a gas permit*, as long as the gas piping system is not altered or modified.
           Routine or on-going maintenance of a gas-fired appliance, in any occupancy, does not require a permit;
            however, personnel performing the work shall be properly trained in such functions.
           A gas permit is required before installing, altering, or making an addition to any gas-fired appliance in a
            residential property.

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                                                 FIRE FACTS
            A gas permit is required to replace, alter, or add to a gas fired appliance in a residential property where the
             owner does not occupy the property in question.
            A gas permit is required to replace a gas fired appliance in any occupancy other than a home.
* Accredited municipalities in the province of Alberta may have By -Laws that require permits for the replacement of gas-fired
appliances. Contact your local fire department fo r further instructions.

Safety Tips
       The first line of defence in preventing CO poisoning is the proper installation, use, and maintenance of your
             fuel burning appliances.
            The installation of a CO detector is the second line of defence against CO poisoning. A CO detector must
             never be substituted for prevention measures.
    Buying CO Alarms
            Several brands and types of alarms are available in hardware, department, and discount stores. The type of
             detector and brand you choose will be the one that meets your individual needs.
            Despite brand or type, ensure your CO alarm has been approved and labelled by an independent testing
             laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC), Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or the
             Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
            Choose an alarm that features a test button and an audible warning alarm.
            Consider a battery back-up power source for alarms powered by household electricity.
    Location and placement of CO alarms
            Install at least one CO alarm on every level of your home, including the basement (but not in unfinished
            Locate a CO alarm outside of each bedroom or sleeping area in your home.
            Because CO mixes freely with air, alarms may be installed at any level in a room.
            If a CO alarm is to be mounted on a ceiling, install it away from any existing smoke alarms in order to
             allow for differentiation between a CO alarm and a smoke alarm in an emergency.
            On floors without bedrooms, install the alarm in or near each living area.
            Locate CO alarms about 5 feet away from fuel burning appliances such as furnaces, or fireplaces. Under
             normal conditions these will emit low levels of CO that will quickly dissipate and thus are not dangerous.
            Locate CO alarms about 5 feet away from areas where household gases or vapours may be present. Gases
             and chemicals can damage the sensing device in your alarm.
            Do not install an alarm near a window or air register where drafts can reduce the alarm operation and
    Maintenance of CO alarms
            Replace batteries in CO alarms once a year, or as soon as the alarm “chirps” warning that the battery is low.
             Helpful hint: schedule battery replacements for the same day you change your clock from daylight to
             standard time in the fall.
            CO alarms don't last forever. Replace your CO alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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                                             FIRE FACTS
           Never disconnect or disable a CO alarm, even temporarily. CO alarms can't warn you of CO if their power
            source is dead, missing or has been removed for other purposes.
           Regular vacuuming or dusting of your CO alarm can help keep it working properly. Follow manufacturer's
            instructions for cleaning directions.
           Don't paint your CO alarms. Paint, stickers or other decorations could keep them from working properly.
    Testing CO alarms
        Test your CO alarm at least once a month. Follow manufacturers instructions for proper testing procedures.
           Ensure you test both the circuitry and the sensor inside the alarm.
           If your alarm does not sound:

         POSSIBLE CAUSES                                  ACTION
         1. Battery dead           Replace immediately
         2. No electricity         Check fuse box/breaker panel or contact an electrician
         3. CO alarm dead          Replace immediately

What to do When the Alarm Sounds
           Know who to call. Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency telephone number to find out what
            number to call if the CO alarm sounds (usually a qualified technician). Post that number by the telephone
            and ensure everyone in the household knows where it is located.
           If anyone is experiencing CO symptoms, immediately evacuate the home and call your local emergency
            service (9-1-1). Do not re-enter your home until a qualified technician has corrected the problem
           If no one in the household has CO symptoms (headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue), push the test/reset
            button to silence it, turn-off fuel burning appliances, and immediately ventilate your home by opening
            windows and outside doors. A qualified technician should be called immediately to inspect for CO sources.
           Make sure everyone in your home can recognize the sound of the alarm and knows how to react to it.
           Plan regular fire drills (twice a year is best) to ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do when the CO
            alarm sounds. Ensure two ways out of every room and establish a meeting place outside the home.

Avoiding False Alarms
           Improper location. Installing an alarm next to fuel burning appliances, or gases and vapours from
            chemicals, cleaning products or cigarette smoke can activate a false alarm. Keep all CO alarms at least 5
            feet away from these items.
           Wear and tear. A CO alarm may wear out, regardless of type or quality. Follow manufacturer instructions
            for replacement schedules.
           Poor maintenance. False alarms can be heightened in dirty or greasy environments. Dirt will often collect
            in the alarm, making it dirty and more sensitive to activation.
            Early Installation. If alarms are installed too early during the construction or renovation of a home or
             building the alarm may become contaminated, dirty, clogged or inactive.
Never ignore an alarm. Even if you suspect false activation of your CO alarm, follow the steps above and contact a
qualified technician to investigate the cause.

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